Edson Johnson Jr., 94, a former registrar of Texas Southmost College and a longtime resident of Brownsville, passed away Dec. 3, 2013.|
Mr. Johnson was born May 23, 1919, in Vancouver, Washington, where his father was a chiropractor and his mother was a schoolteacher. He graduated from Vancouver High School in June 1937 and continued his education at Clark College in Vancouver. His education, as with that of so many others of his generation, was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II.
Mr. Johnson joined the Marine Corps a month after Pearl Harbor, was sent to the Pacific theater, and was involved in the Guadalcanal operation and the battle to take Guam.
In the spring of 1945, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died suddenly, his Marine unit was one of those picked to serve as Honor Guard for the president's funeral. They marched in Washington and later at President Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park, New York. Because of that honor, Mr. Johnson and his fiancée Sidney Lorraine Crandall, had to postpone their wedding, but the two of them were finally married in El Cajon, California, on May 6, 1945. They were married more than 68 years, had seven children, and Mrs. Johnson survives him.
Again, like so many of his generation, he returned to school on the GI Bill after the war, and in June 1948 he graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a BS in business administration. Following his graduation, Edson and Sidney felt a call to missionary service, and after preparatory work at a California seminary the two of them went to Mexico in Nov. 1950, and served there as Presbyterian missionaries until 1974. During furloughs from Mission work, Mr. Johnson continued his religious studies, and in May of 1963 he received the degrees of Master of Christian Education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia.
He had a lifetime commitment to learning and education, not only for himself but for many others. During the period of 1973-1974, while he was doing graduate studies at the University of Texas' Institute for Latin American Studies, he met Dr. Rene Oliveira of Texas Southmost College, and Dr. Oliveira hired him to be Registrar at Southmost, during a period of enormous expansion of the college and of educational opportunities for people in the Rio Grande Valley. Mr. Johnson was always pleased and proud of the achievements made by the many Work-Study students who served in the office he headed, and he followed their careers with great interest and satisfaction.
After retirement, he took painting classes at Southmost, took a keen interest in learning how to paint, was a fiercely competitive ping-pong player and also a dedicated supporter of the TSC volleyball ream as well as the Los Fresnos High School team in volleyball and basketball.
He was a lifetime sports fan who loved baseball and followed his teams with knowledge and dedication.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson had seven children, six of whom survive: Ambassador (Ret.) Donald, Rev. Thomas, James, David, Paul and Dr. Melinda Betsy. They also have 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
At Mr. Johnson's request, no formal funeral will be held, but a memorial service celebrating his life will be held at Central Christian Church at 11 a.m. Dec. 7, 2013.
Instead of flowers, well-wishers are asked to send contributions to the Texas Southmost College scholarship fund.
Published in Brownsville Herald on Dec. 5, 2013